Sunday, April 26, 2015

Rome - Sunday - 4/26/15

I was in the middle of the DEEPEST sleep when there was a knock on the door. It was 1:30am back home, but 7:30am here in Rome. Room service arrived right on time.

I had slept through the alarm and Eric said he felt like he'd been hit with a sledgehammer. It took us a few minutes to snap out of it. Eric finally threw on a robe and opened the door. As I hid in the dark bedroom, a man and woman walked by with the room service cart. Thank goodness Eric was able to pull it together. 

I sat on my bed feeling like absolute hell. I REALLY wished we didn't order room service so early, but I had no idea I would feel this horrible.

Eric scrambled to find a euro for the tip, and the employees were gone. I think we were both in a state of shock. That didn't stop me from eating though!

I went right over to the table and started chowing. My body didn't feel right eating at 1:30am, but what was I going to do?

Room Service!

Eric and I started to laugh because we couldn't believe how much food they brought. It was enough to easily feed a family of five. 

I love a good bread basket!

Enough to feed a family

Yogurt in a glass jar

The bacon was definitely not well-done enough, and the tomatoes grossed me out. The sausage was pretty good though. I loved my cute little glass jar of yogurt. All the condiments came in mini glass jars too. We also had a large bowl of fruit salad which was great. The coffee and cappuccinos were amazing!

My view while enjoying room service

After eating I started to feel alive again. If we didn't have breakfast delivered we would have easily slept until noon. Eric wanted to go back to bed, but I encouraged him to get up and get dressed. We were already up so might as well start our day. 

A few hours later we were walking to the train station. Our destination was the Colosseum and the subway would drop us off right there. The subway station was pretty clean and normal like any subway in the US. 

We approached the booth to purchase our tickets. We stood there trying to figure out what buttons to press, when this man showed up out of nowhere. He smiled at us and helped us purchase our tickets. Wow, how nice! 

We thanked him, and he held his hand out. 

Are you serious?! This normal looking clean shaven man was a beggar?! OMG we were clearly EASY targets. That really took us both by surprise. The problem is that this man could have tried to rob us. Rome is well known for pick-pocketing. Lesson learned!

I felt pretty foolish because Eric and I live in a major city and I thought we'd be smarter than that. 

Anyway, the subway system in Rome is super easy. I took a picture and an officer yelled at me. I guess pictures aren't allowed, oops.

Subway in Rome

After a handful of stops we got off and walked outside. Immediately we saw the Colosseum. It was a stunning sight! It reminded me of the time I turned the corner in Paris, and there before my eyes was the Eiffel tower. The magnitude of the structure sort of took my breathe away!

Our view right outside the subway station

Another shot of the colosseum taken later in the day

We moved forward and I tried to take unobstructed photographs. People were swarming everywhere! We probably walked for 60 seconds when a guy approached us and asked if we wanted to purchase a tour. We had heard that in order to skip the extremely long lines, you can pay for a tour and get right in. This guy was friendly and seemed legit. We signed up! It was about 30€/person and included a tour of the Colosseum and the Palatine Hills which was right next door.

The guy lead us to his wife/business partner and we paid her cash. We later realized we should have tried to negotiate the price. The wife lead us and another couple to the tour group. The tour guide was a jolly looking Italian man and his tour had already started. I paid for a full tour, so why did he start already? There were already 20 people there and more were joining. This took us by surprise. We were under the impression that it would be a smaller group of maybe 10-15 people. There ended up being 40 total, which was far from ideal. 

At the end of the day, our tour was fine, but next time we'd definitely try to get in a smaller group. The guide took us around to a few spots outside the colosseum and was talking away. His accent was pretty thick and it was tough to understand him. 

Our jolly tour guide and his 40 followers

He managed to get us all inside the colosseum and the lines were outrageous.  We walked through a long roped off path and finally entered the colosseum. It was really cool to see the interior in person. Gladiator fights used to take place on the huge stage and prisoners were kept below.  I believe even lions were kept in cages below as well!

Stage where gladiator fights took place

A nice member of our tour group took a picture of us

Inside the colosseum

I don't think either of us learned much from the guide. I couldn't understand him and he spoke too quickly. After about 30 minutes, we had some free time before the tour of the Palatine Hills began. 
We walked around and took pictures. It was so busy and the tourists were rude and pushy. 

When it was time for the next tour, we headed out the back entrance where another guide would apparently be waiting for us. The guide was actually there waiting and he directed us to stand with our group. 

Once everyone arrived, the guide started speed walking down the street to the Palatine Hills and most people lost him completely. I had to power walk to keep up. Finally we arrived at the entrance.

Entrance of Palatine Hills

Our guide kept saying the guy at the door is a douche and checks every single bag which takes forever.  It was very warm and sweaty outside, and we waited a solid 30 minutes to get in.

I can't forget to mention the illegals who would harass every single person to buy a SELFIE STICK. They would wave the stick in your face and say "selfie stick?" over and over and over in their accents.  It was awful because they were everywhere. There wasn't an inch of land in all of Rome that was free of illegals selling selfie sticks. It's unfortunate that they're allowed to be so aggressive and invasive. It's also distracting and makes it difficult to enjoy all the great things around you. 

I definitely wasn't expecting that!

Anyway, we finally entered the Palatine Hills and ended up loving it. It's one of the most ancients parts of Rome and used to be an enormous palace which housed 1000 people.  Now there are ruins because the church destroyed the palace. 

Standing with our group inside the Palatine Hills

Ruins from the palace

This guide was much better than the last, mainly because we could understand him. We stood together for awhile as he spoke about the history. 

Eric in front of the ruins

We walked for ten minutes to a beautiful garden and a viewpoint which is all part of the Palatine Hills. The guide was engaging and funny and we enjoyed learning the history from him. 

The viewpoint was great. You could see the beautiful skyline of Rome, as well as the ruins of the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum is where all the important government buildings used to be.

Plush and manicured gardens in the Palatine Hills

Beautiful view of Rome

View of the Roman Forum, which is where all the government buildings used to be

Roman Forum Ruins

We spent about an hour with the guide who ended the tour by trying to get everyone to sign up and pay for his tour the next day at the Vatican. We didn't go for it and continued to walk around. 

Palm Tree Pic

Eric and his new friend

Eventually we really had to pee. We saw a museum in the distance that was open and had bathrooms available. Of course, the line was super long! There were only 2 private unisex bathrooms, and a dozen people waiting in front of us. We went in together and held our noses. OMG, no toilet paper, no soap, and no paper towels. How terrible! Thank goodness I was smart enough to pack napkins and hand wipes in my purse. There were 2 nice ladies waiting behind us in line, and I gave them my leftover paper. She thanked me for being such a good person. That was nice!

We were starting to ware down. This had been a long day and my legs were killing me. We took a few more photos and left. 

Up in the Palatine Hills

Roman Forum up close

See all those people? That's the viewpoint in the Palatine Hills we were at

We needed to eat, and Eric was trying to figure out where to go. The streets were packed to the max with people and cars.

Navigating Baby

There were many restaurants near our hotel and the Trevi fountain, so we decided to head in that direction. On the way, we saw the "Wedding Cake" building. I guess it was built to honor the king of the first unified Italy.

Wedding Cake Building

There were so many restaurant options we didn't know which to choose. We sat down at one restaurant that looked very nice on the outside. We lasted ten minutes before we got up and left. No one approached us and the menus were filthy.  We walked further down the street and sat outside at a small pizza restaurant. 

About to eat the famous pizza in Rome

Rome is famous for pizza, so we ordered pizza with wine and salad. We were seated outside on a very narrow road and when cars drove by Eric thought he was going to get hit!

The car is too close for Eric's comfort!

I'm pretty sure we were seated in the middle of the road

They didn't provide a bread basket, which was disappointing. I expected fresh Italian bread baskets at every restaurant. I asked for bread and I got this toasted (and borderline stale) basket of bread that we were charged for. 

Rome's famous pizza

The pizza was a huge disappointment. It was average and nothing better than what we can get at home. Rome is FAMOUS for pizza, so we were shocked. After experiencing a tourist trap restaurant for 2 nights in a row, we learned our lesson and used the concierge going forward.

We checked over the bill and it looked right except for something called "cover charge" for 4€. We asked and the waiter said it was a service charge. You don't have to tip in Italy (unless you want to because the service was exceptional). I couldn't believe they were sneaking a tip on the bill. SCAM!

Enough about that restaurant! 

We felt revived after eating and Eric realized we were a short walk to the Spanish Steps. We headed to the area and it was total mob scene.

This outdoor terrace is so cute I had to photograph it

This is where all the high end shops were located (like Valentino, Louis, etc). There was a fountain in the middle of the square which was surrounded by luxury shopping and restaurants.

Mob scene at the Spanish Steps

Not only were selfie stick illegals everywhere, but they were also selling roses. There were times when a rose was literally placed in my hand or right in my face. What the ??? The illegal wanted me to take the rose and then force Eric to pay for it. Umm, hell no! This atmosphere couldn't be further from romantic and definitely didn't warrant a rose. 

We headed up the steps keeping a very close eye on my purse and Eric's wallet.

Our view walking up the Spanish Steps

Eric's Dad was able to track Eric at the Spanish Steps with his iPhone GPS. Cool!

There were all these pretty flowers and plants on the steps, and the view from the top was absolutely gorgeous. 

Eric took a great photo of me at the top of the Spanish Steps

Look at all those people!

We took a seat on the steps and continued to be harassed by the illegals. I saw one girl lose her patience and say, "NO NO NO NO."  Eric adopted this tactic going forward. It looks like you need to be aggressive to get these people to leave you alone. It was so unfortunate because the steps were pretty cool. Besides the constant harassment, the atmosphere was incredibly lively and fun. I saw one couple that brought a bottle of wine and box of macaroons. They were leaving the next day and thought they'd spend their last night hanging out on the steps. Neat!

Our legs were tired so we rested for a while. Then we started walking on a path to the park, which we found at the top of the steps. The views up there were beautiful. 

Great view from the park

We briefly walked through the park and headed back to the hotel. My legs were so tired I needed to sit and rest every 15 minutes. 

At the hotel, we showered and made plans. Aman, my friend from high school who lives in Rome, suggested we take a food tour. We did some research and decided to sign up. The reviews were awesome and it sounded like a unique experience. We booked it for Tuesday at 4pm. 

Tomorrow we planned to visit the Vatican. It is going to be a big day! 

It took me forever to fall asleep, but eventually I was dreaming about Italy.

Good night!

1 comment:

  1. I am throughly enjoying your Blog, It is truthful and funny at the same time. The pictures put you right there. Thank you for sharing in this format.